10. Applied Materials (AMAT)
Company profile: Applied Materials is the world's largest supplier of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment to the highly cyclical semiconductor industry. Late last year it bought Varian Semiconductor Equipment for $4.6 billion in cash, giving it an immediate market-leading presence in the field of ion implantation.
Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 21% this year, including 12% in the past month, but on a 12-month basis, they're down 17%.
9. Dell (DELL)Company profile: Dell is a manufacturer and direct seller of notebook computers, desktop computers, software and other peripheral equipment. It's also building a retail store presence. Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 21% this year and have a three-year annualized return of 25%. S&P gives Dell a "strong buy" recommendation with five stars, its highest rating, and a $19 price target, a 7% premium to its current price. Sterne Agee downgraded Dell to "underperform," from "neutral" Wednesday, due to its shares potential downside risk after its strong run-up this year and increasing competitive pressures in its core PC business. 8. EMC Corp. (EMC) Company profile: EMC is a leading provider of hardware, software, and services for enterprise network storage, and now, through its VMware unit, software and services. The company is well-positioned to become a major player in cloud computing and virtualization software. Investor takeaway: EMC's shares are up 22% this year and have a three-year annualized return of 30%. S&P lowered its rating on its shares to "buy" from "strong buy," on Jan. 26, based on valuation as the share price is approaching the firm's price target of $28. S&P's survey of analysts found 21 "buy" ratings, 13 "buy/holds," and four "holds." 7. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) Company profile: Freeport-McMoRan's mines produce more copper and molybdenum than any other company in the world. It also produces gold. The company reported 2011 earnings of $4.6 billion, a record. Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 22% and have a three-year annualized return of 46%. Metals mining has historically been a highly volatile industry, but demand has steadily risen over the past few years. S&P has its shares rated "hold," while in its survey of analysts, it found 11 "buys," nine "buy/holds," and five "holds." 6. Citigroup (C ) Company profile: Citigroup is a global financial-services company that was bailed out by the government in the financial crisis of 2008. It is recovering, and thanks to the geographic diversity of its operations, Morningstar says "Citigroup is poised to continue adding high-margin loans to its balance sheet while many of its peers in the U.S. and Europe suffer from low interest rates and minimal loan demand in deleveraging developed economies." Investor takeaway: Citigroup's shares are up 25% and have a three-year average annual loss of 3%. S&P has its shares rated "hold," and found in a survey of analysts that 11 give it "buy" ratings, and there are seven "buy/holds," five "holds," two "weak/holds," and one "sell."
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